Homestays are a great way to pay something back into local communities and get an authentic feel for local life. Emma Higgins has the lowdown on why you might want to consider a homestay for your next Thailand adventure, along with a few favourites
Choosing homestays as your accommodation in Thailand is one of the easiest ways to connect with a genuine side to the ‘Land of Smiles’.
By staying with a local, you have unlimited access to tips and recommendations to help you get off the beaten path, and each day you’ll be able to try home-style traditional cooking and pick up language tips, too.
Furthermore, homestays provide valuable sources of income for local people. This is particularly important in rural areas, where there are limited ways of earning money. The development of homestays has changed the lives of many locals in Thailand for the better. It’s a win-win situation for both guests and hosts.
There are homestays dotted all over the country, but it’s good to remember that the word ‘homestay’ is tossed around a little more liberally than it used to be. Just because a place labels itself as a homestay, doesn’t mean you will necessarily interact with locals here: sometimes a simple guest house or B&B will call itself as a homestay to draw people in, but in reality will be basic accommodation with little or no added benefits. Make sure you read reviews and feedback carefully before booking, or ask plenty of questions if booking in-person.
Websites like Homestay.com provide an easy way to find this kind of accommodation, but if you’re not set on booking everything before your trip, it’s also worth asking around as you’re travelling.
Some of the smaller villages with homestays don’t have a website or list their homestays anywhere on the Internet, so you have to ask around or to talk to tour operators or local travel companies to find them. The tourism offices in nearby towns are generally good at helping you seek out this information and to book your stay.
From island escapes to local houses in Bangkok and countryside villages, the following homestays are some of the best in Thailand and give a broader picture of what homestays are all about.
Situated in Ko Pet, a village in the heart of north-east Thailand’s Isaan region, Lamai Homestay shows visitors just what it’s like to live in a Thai village.
The house has three guest bedrooms, keeping visitor numbers low. It’s set amongst a lush paradise of gardens, with banana and mango trees thriving in the tropical climate.
Living with a family is just one part of the experience here. Guests can also witness rice-planting and silk-making processes, try out some Thai cooking, or your host will also take you round the village to meet and connect with other locals.
Koh Yai Noi, a community on an island located one hour by boat from Phuket, is considered one of the best homestay experiences in Thailand. Staying here gives you an opportunity to speak directly to a unique group of Thai people – they're almost entirely Muslim seafarers – and learn about their unique way of life. You can take part in fishing and rubber-making activities here, as well as getting plenty of chances to taste delicious homemade southern Thai food and to chat to the friendly local families each day.
Homestays in Thailand (Dreamstime)
With weaving, mud cloth production, cooking, orchard walks, biking through rice fields and much more, there’s rarely a dull moment in the village of Ban Na Ton Chan.
This community of families outside Sukhithai in northern Thailand has spent the last two decades creating in-depth homestay experiences for travellers, winning awards for the way they’ve used tourism to enrich their community.
Come here for a peaceful stay and leave with an array of new Thai skills to add to your repertoire.
If staying at an impersonal hotel right in the thick of central Bangkok doesn’t sound like your thing, but you still want to experience Thailand’s capital, there are plenty of homestay option here.
Tony and Bor live in a townhouse around 20 minutes from the city centre, and go above and beyond to show you something different in Bangkok. That includes meeting you at the airport, if you wish, and escorting you around to see the sights on your first day to help you get your bearings. The couple tend to take you away from the major tourists sights, so you can witness a more everyday perspective of life in Bangkok.
Hosts David and Joy welcome guests at their farm stay 25km from Krabi.
This is real countryside living, with vegetable gardens, animals roaming around and a creek ideal for swimming in to cool down.
There are two bedrooms on the upper floor of their house that they let out to guests, both with air conditioning and double beds. With the nearest village 2km away, you’ll feel in the middle of nowhere here, and that’s the beauty of the place.
Ban Muang hill tribe (Dreamstime)
If off-the-beaten-path is what you’re looking for in Thailand, Ban Muang Pon should be one of your top choices.
This small village in northwest Thailand, around 10km south of Khun Yuam, runs a homestay program with a collection of families that will happily welcome you into their way of life.
This a Tai Yai community, a hilltribe of Thai/Myanmar people, and on request they will take you out to the nearby national parks or cook you some traditional cuisine.
A low level of English is spoken here, but it’s possible to get by.
Phuket attracts thousands of visitors each year. You can still find an authentic slice of Thai life here, though.
Stay with Oak and Oh and you’ll find it easy to discover what it is to be a local on Phuket. Their home in the centre of the island has one double room available, and staying here offers the perfect opportunity to try traditional cooking, polish up your Thai language skills (although English is spoken too), and hop on a bus into town with them where they’ll point you to all the best bits.
At this homestay, you’re truly treated like one of the family.
Main image caption: Phuket, Thailand (Dreamstime)